Presentation on theme: "Leading Great Discussions Do more than dispense information – Inspire transformation."— Presentation transcript:
Leading Great Discussions Do more than dispense information – Inspire transformation
Evaluate your current discussions: Are you managing both content and process? Or, are you preparing questions and feeling that the discussions aren’t developing as you’d like? What tone are you setting for the group, in terms of sharing? Open, guarded, or somewhere in between?
Evaluate your current discussions: Are you doing most of the talking? If so, is that intentional, or due to personality dynamics? Are there people in your group who rarely contribute? If so, why do you think that is? Are there people in your group who monopolize the discussion? Again, if so, why do you think that is?
Evaluate your current discussions: Review your answers. What would you like to change about your group’s discussions? Assume the perspective of one of your group members. What do you think they would want to change? What stumbling blocks or discussion hurdles are you facing?
Overcoming Common Stumbling Blocks #1 – Not Enough Preparation Always Have a Plan Have a working knowledge of the material Envision the discussion – where will it go? Prioritize questions – often don’t need them all Prepare your own answers Answer relationship-building questions first to set the precedent Answer study questions after everyone else
Overcoming Common Stumbling Blocks #1 – Not Enough Preparation Consider Logistics Is the room set-up conducive to discussion? Move furniture to form a circle; make sure everyone can see everyone else Is the environment comfortable for all? Allergies, room temperature Do you need discussion tools? Videos, handouts, activities, maps
Overcoming Common Stumbling Blocks #2 – Lack of Structure Follow the Small Group Agreement Template at on the Leader Resource page. Framework should address: Regular attendance – sporadic attendance diminishes connections Promptness – interruptions kill discussions Confidentiality, respectful language, and the sharing of discussion leadership
Overcoming Common Stumbling Blocks #3 – Inadvertently Setting the Wrong Tone Start Strong – your energy level, outlook, and sharing are the group’s model Pray for courage and guidance if you are reaching outside of your comfort zone State discussion goals UPFRONT “Tonight, let’s finish Chapter 10.” “Today, I’d love to hear from Charlie and Isabel.” Write goals on the whiteboard for emphasis
Overcoming Common Stumbling Blocks #3 – Inadvertently Setting the Wrong Tone Start with a warm-up question – don’t dive right in to the study questions Can begin with informal chatter Warm up questions should reveal something about the speaker Tie to the study when possible You share first – model how long and how revealing the answer should be
Overcoming Common Stumbling Blocks #3 – Inadvertently Setting the Wrong Tone Sample Warm-up Questions: Who was God to you when you were a child? What has been one of the best compliments you’ve received as an adult? Tell us one interesting fact about where you grew up. What is one thing you are really good at? What was your favorite toy / book / movie as a child? If you could be a fictitious person in a book or movie, who would you be? Does your name have a special meaning?
Overcoming Common Stumbling Blocks #4 – Asking Too Many Closed Questions Closed questions lead to “yes” or “no” answers. Use sparingly: To lay the groundwork or drive home a point. Example: “Were the disciples initially confused by Jesus’ statement?” When you need a yes/no answer. Example, “So, are we in agreement that we will meet next week at the Meyer’s home?”
Overcoming Common Stumbling Blocks #4 – Asking Too Many Closed Questions Open-ended questions help members apply lessons to their lives Begin with HOW, WHY, WHEN, WHAT What do you think Paul meant here? Why do you suppose the author groups these three parables together? When you read this scripture, what came to mind? How do you feel about Shannon’s suggestion?
Overcoming Common Stumbling Blocks #4 – Asking Too Many Closed Questions Guide with statements using words like TELL, DESCRIBE, SHARE, GIVE, COMPARE Tell us about a time when you struggled with that emotion. Describe Martha’s viewpoint in this story. Give us an example of a time when you felt the Holy Spirit’s guidance. Compare the two sons in the story.
Overcoming Common Stumbling Blocks #5 – Managing the Discussion The process is as important as the content General Process Pointers: Ask just one question at a time Don’t fear silence – WAIT for an answer, even if it feels awkward Give positive feedback / affirm participation even if answers are not quite “there” yet Don’t be afraid to gently call on someone Encourage more than one answer – “What do the rest of you think?”
Overcoming Common Stumbling Blocks #5 – Managing the Discussion Use Guiding Statements and Probing Questions Keep the group on track – “That’s a great story, Sarah. I think the author used a similar anecdote in Chapter 6. Let’s take a look at that.” Direct the group to deeper reflection – “What else do you think Paul was trying to convey to the Corinthians?” Challenge when necessary – “What do you mean when you say you are ‘not really a fan’ of this book of the Bible? Tell us what bothers you about it.”
Overcoming Common Stumbling Blocks #5 – Managing the Discussion Use Clarifying Questions and Monitor Body Language Demonstrate your engagement by leaning forward, nodding, facing speaker If you are confused by a statement, someone else is, too. Get clarification for everyone’s sake. Watch the room for signs of disconnection or discomfort, such as crossed arms, pursed lips, sighing, eyes looking down or away
Overcoming Common Stumbling Blocks #5 – Managing the Discussion Address Potential Problems Early On Discussion “Hogs” Seat them next to you Assert control with a guiding question or statement, politely interrupting if needed At the start of your meeting, state that your goal is to hear from quieter group members Take them aside privately to see if there is an underlying issue behind the monopolization
Overcoming Common Stumbling Blocks #5 – Managing the Discussion Address Potential Problems Early On Timid Contributors Ask them easy, non-threatening questions to establish their confidence, and offer praise when they contribute Enlist another member to act as their encourager Use sub-groups to draw them out if your group is very large
Overcoming Common Stumbling Blocks #5 – Managing the Discussion Address Potential Problems Early On Conflict Between Members Some friction can actually be good for discussions If it is becoming heated, use redirection – intervene with another question, or use humor if appropriate. Meet outside of the group if conflict runs deep. Aim for collaboration or compromise. Enlist a Group Life staff member if a neutral party is needed.
Overcoming Common Stumbling Blocks #5 – Managing the Discussion Address Potential Problems Early On Shallow Dialogue More relationship-building is needed – social activities, service projects, warm-up questions Evaluate your own ability to open up Use probing questions to dig deeper Ask the group if they are satisfied with the dialogue. If they’re not, ask them to problem- solve with you.
Overcoming Common Stumbling Blocks #5 – Managing the Discussion Address Potential Problems Early On Going Off Topic Look for a pattern. Do the same people cause the wandering? Have a separate discussion with them. Your current study may not be capturing everyone’s attention. Ask the group, and switch studies if people are not engaged by the current topic. Do you have a discussion plan made each week? Don’t worry if it happens occasionally. Sometimes the best group bonding happens when you wander off topic.
Now, go and lead some great discussions! Questions? Contact us at Additional Resources: Leading Life-Changing Small Groups, Bill Donahue, Zondervan, 2012 Coaching Life-Changing Small Groups, Bill Donahue and Greg Bowman, Zondervan, 2012 Re-Group, Henry Cloud, Bill Donahue, John Townsend, Zondervan, 2007 The Definitive Book of Body Language, Allan and Barbara Pease, Bantam Dell, 2004 The Eight Habits of Effective Small Group Leaders, Dave Earley, Touch Publications, 2001 Community – Taking Your Small Group Off Life Support, Brad House, Crossway, 2011 Leading with Questions, Michael J. Marquardt, Jossey-Bass, 2005 What Your Story? Icebreaker Questions for Small Groups, Cheryl Shireman, Create Space, 2011 Why Didn’t You Warn Me? Pat J. Sikora, Standard Publishing, 2007
Leading Great Discussions Do more than dispense information – Inspire transformation